Switching Gears

With the days getting shorter, and it getting darker earlier in the Pacific Northwest, I’m getting back to one of my favorite fall and winter pastimes: reading at night.  It’s one of the events I look forward to as summer wanes and fall approaches. 

Somewhere around 60-90 minutes before bedtime, I like to grab a pillow, a blanket, a book, and head for the sofa and spend my remaining moments of the day with a good book.  Our cats have become aware of these queues and are eager to join me on the sofa.  They don’t seem to mind what I read, as long as I stay put long enough for them got get a good pre-bedtime nap in.

During the spring and summer, when its light out right up until bedtime, I like to be outside or doing something more active.  However, dark, cooler, and often rainy nights are more conducive to a passive activity like reading.  It’s like nature giving me permission to slow down and relax.  Plus, by the time spring rolls around, I’m eager to start getting after it again.

Are there any activities that you look forward to as the seasons change?  If so, be sure to take part in them, and enjoy the time spent in said activities. 

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A Quick Thought On Getting Along

Lately, I’ve been reminded of the obvious truth that the success and happiness we experience in life is largely due to do with how well we are able to get along with other people.

This truth reminds me that how I treat people and interact with them matters.  If I want assistance, kindness, or grace from others, then I need to offer these things to those around me. 

It seems to me, from my experience on both the giving and receiving end, that life is much better when I’m getting along with fellow-Earthly-travelers, than when I lead with demanding my own way, or thinking that the world revolves around me.  It has been proven multiple times, that the world, indeed, does NOT revolve around me, or any other single person.

Getting along with others doesn’t mean that I default to capitulating what I want or need, simply for the sake of getting along.  Rather, I see it as being considerate of the needs of others, in addition to my own needs.

Isn’t that what we all want: for others to be considerate of us?  If that’s the case, let’s make sure we’re doing likewise for others.

The Most Beautiful Thing

Last Friday evening, my wife and I were on a flight back from a week-long vacation in Boston, when I noticed the shape of a large man walking down the aisle.  As I looked up from my book, I was surprised, and captivated, by the scene I saw.

Securely cradled in this man’s arms was a 1-year-old baby boy (I talked to the man later, and he told me the boy’s age) who was sound asleep.  This dad was walking up and down the aisle of the airplane gently bouncing and rocking his sleeping son, in an effort to keep him soothed and comfortably asleep.  From the baby’s contentedly limp posture, I’d say this dad was doing an excellent job!

After watching this scene for several minutes, I nudged my wife and pointed out the scene to her.  After she saw it, I leaned over and said, “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all week.”

I’m always impressed by dads that are engaged in the lives of their young children.  We all hear stories of dead-beat dads or absentee fathers, so I’m especially awestruck when I see a dad who is shattering these aforementioned sub-par pictures of fatherhood. 

Here’s to all you dads out there who are actively and positively engaged in raising your kids.  Your children are blessed call you dad.

Trust

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t trust anyone!”?  Have you ever said that yourself?  That comment makes me laugh, because each one of us puts our trust into others more than we realize.

For example, we trust that:

  • Cooks and staff at the restaurants we eat in are observing the proper health and safety procedures related to food storage, handling, and preparation
  • Letter carriers will deliver a correspondence you drop in the mail in an accurate and timely fashion
  • Gas pumps actually pump the type and grade of gasoline listed on the pump, versus diesel, water, or some liquid other that what the pump says.
  • Other drivers will stop when a traffic light is red, go when it’s green, and drive the proper direction in traffic, rather than just going whichever direction in whichever lane they feel like.

In all these examples, and hundreds of other daily scenarios, we are counting on others to be trustworthy.  This thought reminds me that others are expecting us to be trustworthy as well.  Let’s live in a way that the trust others have in us is well-placed.

Reconnecting

On June 11th, I wrote a post titled, “Simply Reconnecting”.  At the end of the post, I mentioned that I was going to reconnect with my friend Dave.  Well, a couple of days ago, we got together for a visit.  We met at 3:30 in the afternoon and we didn’t say “good bye”, until just before 10:00 PM.  The time flew by. 

I hadn’t seen Dave for 6 years, but as soon as we sat down, we picked up right where we left off.  It was so much fun to reconnect and catch up on what we’ve each been up to.  At one point, Dave was talking about how much he enjoys observing someone who is excellent at what they do, regardless of their occupation.  At that point, I thought to myself, “That’s why I like Dave.  He’s my kind of person”.

If you have a friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with, I’d recommend you do that immediately.  While there’s nothing to be gained by waiting, there is tremendous blessing in connecting today.

On Apologizes

This week, I had an interaction with someone where I could have behaved better than I did. What I knew I needed to do was offer an apology. Here’s the thing, when we know we need to make an apology: we can come up with all sorts of reasons not to.

It’s no different for me either. In fact, I was running through several reasons why I didn’t need to make the apology. My lame excused ranged from, “They probably don’t even remember the incident” to “I’ve got other things I need to be doing” to every other excuse in between. I told you they were lame.

In the end, I made the apology before my workday started. I decided it was, indeed, important and needed to be done. The person who I apologized to was gracious and said that they appreciated it.

All that to say, if you owe someone an apology, make it. Don’t wait, or put it off, or think of reasons to keep from doing it, because the person you owe the apology to deserves it.

Gratitude For The Skill Of Others

We just had the opener for our garage door replaced, and I’m so grateful to the person who came out and installed it for us.

I’m not the handiest guy in the world.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I’m really good at, but installing stuff, like a garage door opener, is not one of them.  That’s why I’m grateful for the skills of others, and their willingness to offer those skills, be it in the market place, or out of their own generosity.

It reminds me that each of us have skills that we can offer others.  The skills we have may not seem like much to us, but to those who don’t have those skills, they’re valuable.  Therefore, since we all rely on the skills of others (when our skill level falls short) we should be willing to offer the skills we have to others. 

It’s a great way to thank those who have offered their skills to help us.

Simply Reconnecting

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some really nice encounters with friends I haven’t seen in a few years.  It reminds me how quick time goes and how easy it is to lose touch with someone.  It also reminds me that it’s also easy to reconnect.

My friend Bob, that I used to work with several years ago, reached out via email earlier this week to see if my email address was still good and what I was up to.  Per Bob’s suggestion, we’ll be meeting up for lunch next week to reconnect and catch up.  I really admire Bob’s initiative to simply send an email suggest going to lunch.  I’m so grateful that he did, and I can’t wait to see him.

Bob’s initiative got me thinking who I should reach out to and reconnect.  Perhaps his initiative has you thinking about a friend you’ve lost touch with that you can reconnect with too.  I encourage you to do like Bob did and simply send an email or make a phone call and reconnect.

I’ll be following Bob’s lead and texting my friend Dave after I submit this post.  It will be good to reconnect with him too.      

Small Talk

During a conversation last week, the topic of small talk came up, and the consensus from most people in the group was that they didn’t like small talk and would rather not engage in it.  It was interesting to me, because I use to feel this same way many moons ago, until I realized how significant small talk is in forming connections with others.

Small talk with folks you don’t know can sometimes feel like you’re just talking for the sake of talking, with nothing of any real importance to say.  That’s how I viewed it until I realized that small talk are the planks in a bridge that lead to deeper connection and conversations.  Think about it, when was the last time you met someone and immediately jumped into a deep and meaningful conversation right off the bat?  It usually doesn’t work that way for me, but I’m open to the idea that maybe I’m doing something wrong. 

Based on my own experience, most conversations I’ve had with people I’ve just met are a series of comments and questions and listening in an effort to find common ground that a more enjoyable conversation can be built on.  I look at it like fly fishing.  You throw something out (like the weather, career, what they/you did last weekend, where they/you live) and see what you get.  I’m amazed how often small talk leads to a “bite”. 

So, the next time you find yourself engaged in small talk, instead of telling yourself the same story about how much you don’t like it, instead think of yourself on a “connection fishing expedition”.  Who knows, you just might land a big one!

Smile Because It Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote last week and it’s such a great reminder about perspective and also about how to handle ending. Since endings are a part of every life, it feels that this quote from Dr. Seuss is applicable for all of us.

There are a number of things that come to an end:

  • A season of life
  • An event
  • A place we enjoy visiting
  • A business we enjoy frequenting
  • A friendship
  • A life

To be clear, some of the endings on this list are more impactful than others, and deserve tears as part of the healing process.  That said, I think that remembering the experience or the person lost with smile, and gratitude for the experience, helps us move forward in away that allows us to remain open to new people and experiences yet to come.  What a shame it would be to close ourselves off to trying new things or getting close to people because we are afraid of the tears that may come with loss.

Dr. Seuss’s quote also reminds me that I don’t have to wait until something is over to smile about it.  I can do so even while it’s happening.  😊